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Study claims 80% of Apple Watch owners in US, UK use Apple Pay

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According to new data from research firm Wristly, which saw its statistics cited in Apple's latest earnings conference call, Apple Watch is proving to be a boon for Apple Pay users, as 80 percent of owners use the service to make purchases.

Wristly aggregated data from an "Inner Circle" of more than 1,000 Apple Watch owners in the U.S. and UK — the only regions with official Apple Pay support — and published its findings on Tuesday.

The 80 percent statistic is in stark contrast to — highly questionable — surveys claiming Apple Pay usage rates are in the low teens for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners, Wristly says. Of the roughly 20 percent of respondents that don't use Apple Pay on Watch, 5 percent said they "do not perceive a benefit" from Apple Pay, 5 percent have security concerns and 15 are using other methods of payment.

Unsurprisingly, most respondents who use Apple Pay first tried the service with an iPhone, though a fairly substantial 19 percent reported their first experience was on Apple Watch. The number is interesting considering Pay debuted six months prior to Watch's release.

One theory addressing the high adoption rate is that using Watch is more intuitive than pulling out an iPhone. More than half of respondents described paying with Watch a "magical" user experience, while 42 percent said the process is convenient. Only 4 percent found Pay on Watch "not that useful" and 3 percent had concerns about security.

Aside from high adoption rates, Watch owners who do use Apple Pay seem to be dedicated to Apple's touchless payments platform. The report says 78 percent of users who set up Apple Pay on their Watch use it at least once a week, a metric up 13 percent from June. Some 15 percent of users claim to use Watch and Apple Pay at least once per day.

That Apple Pay adoption is so high on Watch may not come as a surprise given device owners are likely deeply entrenched in Apple's hardware and software ecosystem. The dynamic might help give merchants not yet on board with Apple's payment initiative that extra push, as Wristly notes 62 percent of panelists shopped at a specific retailer based in part on its decision to support Apple Pay. Further, 86 percent of respondents are actively seeking out Apple Pay branding materials at point of sale terminals, suggesting high brand loyalty.